OpenCellular by Facebook: Seems like a noble initiative, but the past makes us skeptical
Facebook is on a mission, the same old mission that it has been talking about for a while now – connecting people. Its latest attempt is called OpenCellular. It is a wireless platform with a shoebox-sized device that can be attached to a tree or lamp post, and has the ability to support a range of communication options including network in a box or access point supporting 2G to LTE.
With this move, looks like the company has been listening to the feedback. Its initiative aims at improving facilities at grassroots levels. The pressing need for emerging economies is access to a dependable infrastructure rather than free Internet. After all, there needs to be internet infrastructure to connect the unconnected. Facebook also highlights how constraint leads to stalled expansion of cellular networks, and deploying traditional cellular infrastructure is difficult for operators, considering the cost related to it.Read more ↓
The company promises a complete open source platform along with hardware design so that telcos, entrepreneurs, OEMs and researchers can build locally, deploy and operate wireless infrastructure using the platform. Facebook is also looking to partner with members of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) for support of the open source community that is related to cellular access technology and also deciding trial zones.
While all this sounds great, there is no denying that Facebook has left us with a bitter sour taste after the net neutrality conundrum, making us skeptical about the social giant and its initiatives. The packaging and repackaging of Internet.org as Free Basics, hordes of advertising, fooling users into signing petitions in support of Free Basics, and an attempt to introduce Internet as Facebook, Marc Andreessen’s colonialism remark and similar acts would take some time to vanish off from our minds. Need we say more.
Back then, Facebook claimed Free Basics was all about connecting emerging markets, without a selfish motive. In its latest post, the company reiterates how 4 billion people are still not connected as they live outside the range of cellular connectivity. In other words, as the social network is saturating its markets in the US and other developed nations, it is now looking for ways to bring more people online from developing markets like India and Africa, which are still struggling with Internet connectivity issues. The open source OpenCellular platform wants to help with infrastructure, but looks like an option just because the previous ones failed.
Connecting the world is definitely a noble cause, and had the net neutrality saga not unfolded the way it did, we would all be appreciating Facebook without a second thought. However, that is not the case, as we are trying hard to look through loop holes, if any, in this new initiative. We’ve turned cynical, looking for a hidden ulterior motive, and Facebook is responsible for this attitude.
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